Saturday, May 19, 2007


Attack of the GROLIES

The Accident & Emergency Department, Shipmanville General, four in the morning. My shift was finishing at nine, and as I’d been on my feet from when I’d started at nine in the evening until about an hour ago, you’d have thought patients would have the good grace to stop coming in or at least to wait till morning. No such luck. Sister Griselda, let’s call her, poked her head round the door of the mess, a rictus of glee on her grotesque features. (Actually, she wasn’t bad looking, but this is my story and the hell with ‘facts’, damn your eyes.)

‘You’re going to love this one,’ she cackled.

I considered having a tantrum but I’d already breached my quota for that week, so I tossed my polystyrene cup at the bin, forgetting it was still half full, so that the wall above the bin was left looking like a cell wall after a dirty protest, and followed her. ‘What is it?’ I asked. ‘A PFO? A PDE? A FUBARBUNDY?’ Those are, respectively, Pissed and Fell Over; Pissed, Denies Everything; and Fucked Up Beyond All Repair But Unfortunately Not Dead Yet. At that hour of the night little else tends to come in.

‘None of the above,’ Griselda grinned. ‘It’s a GROLIES.’

Oh Christ, that was bad. A Guardian Reader Of Limited Intelligence in Ethnic Sandals. I didn’t think I could handle it and began to weep like a baby but Griselda took a firm grip on my arm and propelled me into the cubicle, backing off and drawing the curtain like the backstabbing coward she was. Witch. The GROLIES was sitting up in bed and the first thing, the first thing she did was look at her watch. I’d probably breached some item of human rights legislation by keeping her waiting five minutes. I saw from her notes that she was 30 but she looked ten years older, which probably had something to do with the pigeon’s nest she had on her head instead of a hair style and the lines slashed into her face, the stigmata of the chronically aggrieved. An older man in his fifties sat by her bed, looking weary. Sure enough, folded beside her was a copy of The Guardian.

‘Hello, I’m Dr Eater,’ I said brightly. ‘What can I do for you?’

The GROLIES doubled over in pain and dribbled saliva into a kidney dish. After a time she sat up and said, ‘I need an X-ray.’

‘Please tell me where the pain is,’ I suggested.

‘It’s my appendix,’ she said.

‘Whereabouts exactly is the pain?’

‘In my abdomen where the appendix are [sic].’

‘When did it start?’

‘Look, I’m in pain, will you just send me for a fucking X-ray?’

I persuaded her to let me examine her abdomen, and asked if she would prefer her father to step outside. She stared at me in wonder.

‘He’s not my father, he’s my partner.’

I glanced at the man who nodded, eyebrows raised, as if to say What can you do?

‘He’s a lawyer, you know,’ she added.

Back and forth we went, I trying to go through the time-honoured process of taking a history, performing an examination and making a diagnosis, she demanding that I stop wasting her time and send her for the X-ray to which she was apparently entitled according to some Act of Parliament or other. I got the I know what’s wrong with my body better than you do spiel, and the you’re paid with my taxes so I get to call the shots lecture. Finally I’d gleaned enough to pronounce on what was wrong.

‘It’s period pain’.

No, no, it wasn’t. I listened while I was blamed for never having experienced menstrual cramps myself and therefore having no idea of what they felt like; then I endured a diatribe about my crass incompetence and impending removal from the medical register. So I did what any strong-willed, principled professional should.

I gave in.

I ordered an X-ray, an abdominal ultrasound, a slew of blood tests and urine analysis. They all came back negative, and the patient stormed out with a fistful of painkillers, most put out that she wasn’t iller than she was, and with no harm having been done apart from several hundred pounds’ worth of wasted taxpayers’ money.

I sound like a callous bastard with this story, and just the sort of arrogant, couldn’t-give-a-damn physician that you may have had the misfortune to come across yourself. I’m not normally like this. Please understand that these were special circumstances. The patient was a GROLIES. The GROLIES are everywhere, and they’re the offspring of an illicit and unholy congress between government and media. They’re characterised by ignorance, querulousness and self-righteousness in equal measure. They have right-wing counterparts in the as yet un-acronymed types who come to hospital clutching the Daily Mail. They’re what soon-to-be-ex-Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt would be if she were a patient. They’re enough sometimes to make me consider going to my employers and telling them where to stick their job, except then the next day the Halifax would be telling me where to stick my mortgage application, the gas company would be telling me where to stick my bouncing cheques, and Harry ‘Mashed Potato’ Reeves, the local debt collector, would be telling me where to stick my excuses. And probably showing me, too.

the as yet un-acronymed types who come to hospital clutching the Daily Mail.

How about STREWTH (Scumbag Tabloid Reader Enraged With Taxpayer Headlines), IRRITANT (Ignorant Redtop Reader In Tantrum About NHS Taxes) or PTERODACTYL (Page Three Expert Ranting Over Drivel, Avowing Conspiracy Theories and Yelling "Lefty!")
Aaagh got no time to read this propply now. Back ina bit
What would an American equivalent be?
Star Reader With Self Importance? SaReWSI?

Hey, my great-Uncle, who lives in Cornwall, was recently misdiagnosed as having "pluracy" by someone JUST LIKE YOU. Turns out the poor fellow had terminal lung cancer, inoperable.
Just think, if he'd been a Guardian Reader, and had been more demanding of His Rights, then perhaps he would've known he was a dead man a bit sooner. And everyone needs the peace of mind knowing you only have six months to live can bring you as a lifetime smoker.
Having been in the ER quite a bit lately, I have seen several of those types. Usually they all think they know something about practicing medicine because they watch "ER," "Grey's Anatomy," or "House." It was hard for me to contain my giggles listening to them in the next curtain over. They're not as funny as the men who have inserted something in their rectum and don't want to admit it, though.

The nail gun injuries were the best. I swear they didn't treat the guy with a nail in his eye for hours, just so they could get everyone around to have a look. The staff's camera phones were out in full force.

I got slagged off by a ER doctor for going to the ER for what the doctor insisted was menstrual pain. I thought I might be having a miscarriage, but it turned out that I had a large ovarian cyst that had burst. The doctor, who was female (and therefore should have known better, dammit) never did apologize to me, the stupid bint.

Not that I am bitter.
I've had to accompany a PFOL (Pissed and Fell Off Log) to A&E before where I myself was diagnosed as a PBOOSER (Pissed But Only One Sober Enough to React) - the reaction being to the poor log-sitter - who it turns out had nothing wrong with him that a good vomit wouldn't cure. And did. His body was so relaxed as it hit the ground - hard - that, incredibly, he had broken nothing.

His condition was pretty soon downgraded though to a PDE, when he started to sober up. His father was on the liquor licensing board for Barra, as well as being its local councilor (southernmost island in O. Hebrides), he was 17 and afraid that "it would be in the papers." Alcohol, as well as paranoia and the inability to sit on a fucking log without incident, also gave him an inflated sense of his own importance.

Eager to return the favour,(I had passed up a dalliance with a boy from Pairc whom I'd been exchanging meaningful glaces with all night on the night of the log) he once had to be restrained from phoning the ambulance for me because he thought it wasn't meant to be purple when I threw up. This otherwise intelligent and able young drunk had to have it explained to him that that's what drinking cider and blackcurrant will do.

Nowadays he's a doctor of environmental science and grinds up fish eyes to test pollutant-levels for a living, but I still love him dearly, fucking imbecilic moron that he is.
You should have given her an enema.
I'm with Sassy S - an enema with lots of chilli in it. Would she then be a HPOA?
shebah: a chili enema? That must be exquisite! I had a blog friend once who was an enthusiastic proponent of coffee enemas, which seemed a waste of perfectly good coffee to me.
you doctors cum in and play God with yer superior attitude and posh accents, period pains are no fun I've been trying to get my doctor to listen to me about them for years but instead he says I've got hypochondria probably caught in a hospital when I was waiting for some doctor cunt to arrive.
For the Mail readers I recommend CUMCOX (Conservative, Undoubtedly Middle Class, Obnoxiously Xenophobic). Or ARSE (Anally Retentive, Superiority-complex Englander)
I don't get out of bed for fewer than ten comments.

Philip: rather good, those. PHILIP CHALLINOR suggests a wonderful acronym but I'm damned if I can think of one just at the moment. One for filing away.

Sam: Brahms again, I fear.

SafeT: much as I sympathise with your uncle, I must point out that there is nobody 'just like me'. Read the General Medical Council's reports on me, available on their website, for evidence. (It's pleurisy, by the way.)

FS: see, I knew this would happen. I post an example of somebody who was making a big fuss over menstrual cramps and then somebody gives a real-life instance of a crappy doctor who misdiagnoses a ruptured ovarian cyst. I can see I'm going to have to invent increasingly outlandish scenarios to make my points.

Sam again: those fish-eye grinders are all congenital liars anyway. Why do you love fucking him dearly? Sorry, did a bit of transposing there. And there's never a place called 'Pairc'.

Sassy: believe me, I was tempted, but according to Casualty doctrine you save the punitive enemas for the little shits who come in having been injured during the course of committing a robbery or a mugging.

SheBah: Chilli enemas? Never heard of them. You sound like you know a thing or two, so drop me an email away from all these prying ears.

SafeT again: waste schmaste. You can always use the grounds again afterwards. After all, you dissolve the buggers either way.

Mr Knudsen: being part Welsh I have nothing resembling a posh accent, look you. Did you ever watch that eighties American sitcom Period Pains? Perhaps it was Growing Pains, hell, I don't know. There was a teenage girl in it, anyway.

Binty: no, no, those won't do at all. We're talking about acronyms for patients. The ones you've suggested describe doctors.
Why does anyone love fucking anyone dearly? Truly, Foots, sometimes I don't believe you really are a doctor. Didn't they teach you about nerve endings at cadaver school, and which ones are the very, very loveliest? Mostly though, I think it was the way he congenitally lied to me and, my God, he was hot when he ground those fish-eyes; all that grinding - he really let them have it - it's all in the wrist, the hairy manly wrist...



(Waving away smelling salts) Pairc exists. It's an old estate. You can check in any time you like, but you can never leave.
I used to watch different strokes till I found out it wasn't about interacial sex.
Do doctors really give punitive enemas?
Only if you ask nicely.
I saw a newspaper cartoon once in which ACRONYM stood for Angry Citizens Representing Oppressed New York Minorities.
"and then somebody gives a real-life instance of a crappy doctor who misdiagnoses a ruptured ovarian cyst"

Hahaha, you should have known it would be me that did it, too.

The amount of time I've been spending in ERs and doctor's offices, I should get an honorary degree.

Or at least a diagnosis, sheesh.

"Fucked up" is not a diagnosis, so quit muttering, I can hear you from here.
"the stigmata of the chronically aggrieved" reminds me of my own dear mum.

I'm with everyone on the enema... as long as you don't have to do it yourself and can find a doting HCA to do it for you.
Foot, first, I will never need to spell ploorassy again.

Second, using the dregs is just as unpalatable for coffee as it is for tea. Dissolve?!? You must be drinking instant.
Can't you cobble together a list of made-up, incomprehensible ailments for these GROLIES? "I think you have Urawanker Syndrome and will need to have your grauniads removed."
Alternatively, just shake your head a lot while sucking your teeth. Then tut-tut and smile sympathetically and tell them there's plenty you can do to ease the every-increasing pain. That should scare them shitless.
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